Skip to main content

Full text of "A search in secret Egypt"

See other formats

nor in accordance with our religious teachings, for Islam has given women full rights. It has allowed them, within reasonable limits, everything that would make them happy. It has permitted them a conservative form of liberty and made them mistresses in their own domain. It has not forbidden them education of any degree whatsoever. On the contrary, it has recommended that they should perfect themselves as much as possible. It has allowed them to have property of their own, and has given them the right to dispose of it. Women can have the power-of-attorney, can be guardians, can be trustees, can be judges except in criminal cases. Some Muslim women had a considerable amount of learning, some have been known for their righteousness, while others have attained distinction in literature. The rumour that Muslim women are half enslaved has originated from the fact that some ignorant people have, under the influence of their environment, acquired this wicked practice of ill-treating their women. Needless to say, Islam could not be held responsible for such abuses."
The ignorance of the average European about this great religion is something for which he should not be blamed, but his misconceptions of it are less to his credit. Many of my friends in England know only that a Muhammedan is a man whose faith allows him to have four wives; beyond that they know nothing! I have no doubt that, at the back of their minds, is the thought that if Islam (to give the religion the name that is given it by its own people and not the artificial name of Muhammedanism which we have bestowed on it) has spread widely in the East, then the attraction of those four wives has a good deal to do with the matter. To a reflective man, who perceives in them four added responsibilities, four more financial burdens, the attraction of these possible wives is less obvious. Personally, I have met only two Muhammedans who had four wives, and they were Maharajahs, who possessed a good deal more than forty apiece. I know a few commoners who have two wives, but I have never met one with a harem of four. About 97 per cent of all the Muhammedans I have ever encountered possessed no more than one wife. It is thus, with some regret, that I must dispel an illusion which we